Sunday, 8 December 2013

A TALE OF TWO SANTAS...


Christmas selection box Santa

I was supposed to go to my primary school Christmas dance that
December night in 1968 or '69 - I had paid my 6d - but the thought of
having to undergo the embarrassment of prancing about with a bunch of
soppy girls far outweighed the tempting delights of ice cream, mince pies,
soft drinks and whatever other seasonal delicacies were on offer that particular
evening.  The dance lessons in the school hall which had been sprung on us on
the run-up to the occasion were bad enough - what with me falling over my two
left feet and having about as much rhythm as an epileptic on speed - but the
prospect of the actual event was more than I could bear.  So I did the only
thing I could - I claimed I had a headache and wasn't feeling well and
thereby avoided the whole sorry spectacle altogether.

Later, when it was too late to attend the party, I staged a miracu-
lous recovery and trotted over to the shops across the road from my
house and spent my pocketmoney on, I seem to remember, a selection box
and a selection stocking.  (Or was it only the stocking?  I think it was both.)  I
no longer recall if they were by Mars or Cadbury's, but the cardboard backing
to the stocking (unless I'm mixing them up) had a cut-out Santa puppet which I
actually assembled but never kept.  However, I did snip'n'save the illustration of
the Santa, plus the one from the front of the box.  Funnily enough, for years I had
associated this night with also buying a copy of TV21, which I recollect having
a fleet of FIREBALL XL ships taking off on the left-hand side of the page,
either on the cover or centrespread, but the only page I can find that that
fits the description doesn't match the year, so I suspect I'm mixing
two separate but similar evenings into one.

Christmas selection stocking Santa puppet illo

I'm not altogether sure, but I suspect the year of the party may've
been '69 rather than '68, because that would've been the last Christmas
that those of us due to attend secondary school after the summer holidays
of 1970 would see in our old primary.  I therefore think that the dance aspect
of the party was to better prepare us pimply-faced youths for our adolescent
dealings with the opposite sex as we approached the next great stage of our
scholastic lives.  In fact, now that I think of it, there was probably a dance
every end-of-year for pupils of a certain age.  Younger kids would doubt-
less have a party with games on a different night, while older ones had
to endure the humiliation of having to foxtrot for their treats.

Cut to 1973 or '74, in another house in a different neighbourhood.
My mother was putting up the Christmas decorations and dressing the
tree, when I heard her say "Oh, I'll put these up!"  In her hands she held the
two cardboard Santas which I'd cut out in a different decade and had neither
set eyes on nor thought about since the night of the Christmas dance several
years before.  I took a look at them, and at some stage over the Festive period,
tried out my new red El Tempo fibre-tip pen on them for no particular reason
I can recall.  They adorned the tree every year from then on, and occasionally
it would occur to me to regret having 'defaced' them with the marker-
pen.  Ah, impetuous youth that I was, alas!

El Tempo Marker Pen

In the late '80s or early '90s, I decided to reverse my handiwork of
years before and once again took a red Tempo marker pen to the red areas
of the cardboard Santas.  My careful application had the effect of wiping the
previous marks of the tip edges from the surface, whereupon I then applied
red Rotring ink to completely restore them to an unblemished state.  A fine
craft knife enabled me to trim any excess card outside of the lines that my
less than skillful 10 year old hands had missed back in the '60s and hey,
presto - my two Santas looked better than they had in a long-time.

I sometimes wonder if anyone who attended the event actually recalls
much about it after all these years, apart, perhaps, from vague impressions,
whereas one look at my pair of 'selection Santas' takes me right back to that
night in '68 or '69, and also another one in '73 or '74.  Perhaps I should've gone
to the party, but I can't help but feel that my non-attendance made the evening
far more memorable for me than would otherwise have been the case.  And it's
probably a fairly safe bet that I'm the only person from school who has two
tangible reminders of that evening to help me remember my experience of
it, as opposed to anyone who actually went to the thing and awkwardly
tripped, tumbled, traipsed and toppled around the varnished hall floor
in pursuit of bruised and battered tootsies.

Happy memories - perhaps the best Christmas
     gift that Santa - or anyone - can possibly give.    

12 comments:

Gey Blabby said...

You were obviously a boy after William Brown's heart at that age, then - a bunch of soppy girls being the clincher, I think.

Kid said...

Indeed, GB. Funny how, back then, you were considered a bit of a cissy if you admitted to 'liking' girls, whereas now, kids have girlfriends from about 8 years old it seems. In my day, it was considered the height of 'manliness' (if you were under 12, that is) to frown upon dealings with the fairer sex. How times have changed.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Nice post made me smile as I also recall a similar primary school Xmas party in 1969 as you say it was not the thing at 9 or ten then for boys to admit to liking girls (although I had a wee thing for Eilidh Mcclintock - unrequited love sadly) so much so in order to ensure we actually danced together ( having done highland dance lessons before hand) the teachers made the boys and girls each pick a piece of paper from one bag, partly educational the idea was to find your match my piece of paper had "Chips" on it so I had to find my "fish" poor we lassie got was considered lets say unpopular at the time (constantly in need of a hanky lets say and even for that time was from a very poor family) but she ended up being nice to chat to - I also remember seeing her again in Rutherglen about 15 years later and she had blossomed (to say the least) into a stunning and very successful young lady so good for her (she had a hard time. I always remember my mum and dad got me a neck mustard jumper with a mustard clip on tie (I wanted to wear my jeans and Batman t shirt)for th eparty as women liked "smart men" (I was 9and barely potty trained) the night actually went ok and the girls thought I was smart until one of them dragged me by my tie and it came off, minor thing but at 9 I was mortified - I never danced with Eilidh as was to shy but overall it was a good night as they played the Beatles and the Monkees (my favs then)- man I am soo old - McScotty

Kid said...

Nice one, McScotty. It's responses like yours that makes doing this blog worthwhile. I won't mention her name, but one of the girls who nobody wanted to dance with in the run-up lessons had warts all over her hands. She, unfortunately, didn't blossom in later life - at least not to my tastes - but, last I heard, she was happily married with a family so someone fell for her charms.

Ken Garrett said...

Simpler times when children actually played the games or tried the crafts printed on selection boxes/stockings. I remember that old catalogue books were a gold mine of fun for girls to make and cut out models/ outfits. Those were the days when we were allowed scissors that were sharp enough to actually cut with.

As for primary school dances or discos, at least the girls were not under pressure to resemble or act like the latest wannabe teen off any of those confidence, self esteem crushing talent shows that pollute our TV screens today.

Full of seasonal cheer me!!

Ken.

Kid said...

That was also a time when designer trainers didn't exist, Ken - only plack plimsolls from Woolworths for PE lessons. (And nobody minded.) Different days.

Bah! Humbug!

Ken Garrett said...

We called those black plimsolls 'guties'. They were a canvas top with a rubber sole and guaranteed to slowly cook your feet at gas mark 5! The only piece of 'designer' labelled clothing for children iI had in the 60s was a quite wonderful Ladybird dark blue dressing gown with those fantastic little red
ladybird buttons.

Ken.













Kid said...

I want one of those dressing gowns in adult size - sounds cool.

Gey Blabby said...

I had never heard them called 'gutties' until recently. We called them 'sannies' - from 'sandshoes' I presume. The ones we wore were the slip-on ones without laces.

Kid said...

'Sannies' is what I knew them as as well, GB. Usually I had the slip-on ones, but I think I may have had a lace-up pair at one time or another.

Ken Garrett said...

The soles of the gutties were so thin that you could tell if when standing on a coin wether it was heads or tails facing up. Not too far from the truth I seem to remember. By the end of the summer holidays said pair of gutties were usually about to fall apart. Still they did their job for the summer months for those kids whose parents could not afford startrite leather sandals.

Ken.

Ken Garrett said...

Kid, PS, just to add to your craving for a Ladybird dressing gown...I'm sure it had a red and white stripped waist cord with end tassels. I must have kept that dressing gown till it was approaching elbow length.

Ken.

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